Sunday, September 27, 2009 in country living

Fall fell on us

This week it started to get pretty chilly out there and the leaves suddenly turned. In two weeks or so, they’ll peak. I always remember this, because they peak around Sarah’s birthday.

Friday they called for a heavy frost overnight. My phone rang and it was my farmer neighbour on the other end. “Hard frost tonight, tomatoes still out in the field so come get all you want, no charge. Bring your tractor.”

Like crazy people we went, a half hour before sunset. We took six huge cloth grocery bags – a few of them those sturdy ones that stand up by themselves. Ron figures we got 90 pounds of tomatoes, most of them green. They overplanted and didn’t cage or support them (lesson learned, they said) so I had to go down some rows on the ridge tops between where the plats were growing flipping over the branches to find the goodies sheltered underneath. And then scrambling to pick the ones that fell off as soon as the branches moved, dodging bad tomatoes on the ground. It didn’t take us any more than twenty minutes to fill our bags. Ron loaded them up in the tractor bucket, and while he lumbered across their field, back over the road and into our yard, Meaghan and I came up the rows of peppers and onions.

We filled our jackets, and carried home as many onions as we could. I think Meaghan’s going to make them an apple pie, because earlier that day we went on a field trip.

Of course, we went apple picking and we came home with a pile of apples. Four 3 pound bags of Cortlands we picked ourselves, and a 20 pound bag of Macintosh for eight dollars. Somewhere between the coming home and the tomato harvest, I took a bag of apples over to our elderly neighbours and caught up on the local news.

See? A circle of kindness. Fall harvest time, neighbours helping each other, supporting one another.

***

In other news: we turned on more breakers and things were fine. Nobody injured themselves with stupid accidents. Work did not get too crazy.

Overall, that makes me suspicious.

Friday, September 25, 2009 in food

Rainbow. In a cake.

This is what happens when Meaghan starts reading food blogs.

Rainbow cake

It’s not even birthday time.

Rainbow slice

We’ll celebrate anyway.

***

Use any white cake, divide it in six bowls. Add gel or paste food coloring to each. Meaghan baked hers in a smaller round pan, one layer at a time. Two pans would go even faster.

Edit: Meaghan blogged it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 in food

Best low fat chicken alfredo

I tweeted about dinner and someone asked for the recipe. Upon searching my blog, I realized I never have posted it, even though I’ve had the recipe for a bit.

It’s adapted slightly from Looney Spoons.

Take a couple chicken breast and slice ’em up. While they are sauteing, start the fettuccine noodles. Don’t have those? Use spaghetti. Any long and thin noodle is great. I break mine in half so we’re not twirling all night.

And now for the sauce:

Sautee 1 or 2 cloves of garlic in 2 tblspoons butter. C’mon, it’s only two.

Mix 1 1/2 cups 2% milk with 1 1/2 tablespoons flour. Add to the above after one minute. Don’t let the garlic brown.

Whisk this on medium till it starts to thicken. Reduce heat to low, and stir in 1/3 c parmesan cheese. Good Parmesan, not the stuff in the cardboard shaker thingy. You can halve this if you’re not a huge parm fan.

Simmer that for a minute or two till your cheese is melted. You’ve been stirring noodles and flipping chicken, too right?

Back to the sauce – stir in 1/4 cup low fat sour cream. Heat for another minute or two, maybe drain them noodles.

Serve immediately. you can toss everything together in the pot, or add things to each person’s plate like we do.

Me: everything
Rom: chicken, noodles, light on the sauce
Meg: noodles & sauce
Emma: noodles with some grated cheese on top.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 in House stuff

I think I’m in love

I’m already married, right? Well if I wasn’t I think I’d be halfway to in love right now.

With the electrician.

Yeah, he was here. Yeah, he fixed the main breaker. (Wait till I upload the pics.) Yeah, he explained a few things that made us go “ooohhhhh… that’s why it was so freaky…”

So tonight we relax a bit and tomorrow we finish up.

Monday, September 21, 2009 in House stuff, what a guy I married

I think it may win

Remember how sometimes in the past I’ve written a blog post and you, the audience, are incredulous and amazed? And this one time, one of my friend even said “Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse – it DID!”

Actually, I’m kind of shaking my head and laughing, since at this point we’ve been through a LOT and really this is just par for the course now, you know? At any rate, I’ll squash my flair for the dramatic and get on with the storytelling.

I think it was Thursday, late in the day. Ron was working on the septic field part, and the pump we’re installing. It need a plug, and all he had to do was run the wire, plop in a new breaker on the panel and hook it up. Pretty straightforward.

Except, you know, this is our house.

I mean, he did it right – it’s one of those things you either know how to do or you don’t, and if you know how to do it, it’s pretty hard to screw it up barring any ambulance showing up. But apparently just touching the electrical panel has set off a cascade of events to highlight every single ineffective and jerry-rigged piece of wiring in the entire house.

First, the entire right side of the panel kept shutting off. Just the right side. Fearing faulty breakers, Ron replaced a few of them on that side. Great – now we are at the point where at least more than half the house isn’t dark.

Nooooooo

Now we’re stuck in the kitchen – a room that has 4 plug sockets, not including the one for the stove, where almost every one is on a different circuit. Every one of them is acting up. Including the stove, which is an entirely different voltage. It works, the clock is on, but now burners and the oven randomly shut down.

The plug behind the fridge has a new plug socket and the wire runs straight from it to the panel. It can’t keep a light on for more than a few seconds.

My office here was on the side of the panel shutting down. Weirdly enough, our bedroom is on the other side, so we’ve run an extension cord from there to here so at least we can work without things going *pouf* like they did a few times on Friday.

We’re waiting for the second electrician to call us back. Our phone was out too.

My mom says the house is winning. We kinda sorta joked before that we’d have to replace all the wiring in the house, and it’s looking like a reality.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 in homeschooling

Why I still homeschool

It’s September, and there’s been a flurry of back-to-school posts plus the flurry of not-back-to-school posts from the homeschoolers. And in our house we just went along our business. I did get a couple of emails inviting me to guest post elsewhere with our reasons for homeschooling, or our daily schedule, or whatever.

But, you know, we were busy. Doing stuff.

That, I think, is ultimately our homeschooling life. It’s not this “thing” we do. It’s life. It’s why we continue to do so, because it works for us. And yes, we are creatures of habit.

No, we don’t hate school.
No, we don’t hate teachers either. I think they have one of the hardest jobs out there. (the kids are the easy part)
Yes, I think public education needs serious reformation.
No, I don’t think everyone should homeschool.
Yes, I have wished all these kids would go away for a few hours each day.

Most of the time, we just roll along, learning as we go, grownup, children, teens and all. Mostly thing roll off my back. I’ve done this too long to defend myself to others or to get my feathers all ruffled when someone decries homeschooling or unschooling as something that can’t possibly work.

Whatever.

Sometimes, like the other week, when the grocery store clerk was absolutely shocked to hear that homeschoolers actually met up with other homeschooling families and their children *gasp* would play together, I get a little riled. Then again, she also had an opinion when I commented on the final price of my groceries. ‘Well, when you buy stuff like this..” pointing to my frozen boxed goods that we buy only occasionally, and only that week because of a huge looming deadline. I’m sure she did a snap judgment on the lack of vegetables, not knowing that we live across from a veggies stand and have all we can eat now. Thanks for that.

It’s our sixteenth year. Sixteen. In years. We might have a sense of what we are doing now. my family all know it works. Anyone who talks to any of my children – my CHILDREN, not me – for any more than five or ten minutes can clearly see we’re doing something right.

What ever it is, no matter how much they don’t/can’t/won’t understand it.

i know there are people fighting the good fight, being indignant for me, or watchful, and having the arguments. But for me? I’m tired. It’s been 16 years, it just works. Not in theory, not in a long discussion, not in a book.

Three of my children are arguably adults. They are, on their next birthdays, 17, 19, and 22. Two of them no longer live at home and live on their own as adults who have jobs, pay bills, interact in this “real world” people told them about, sometimes while they were active participants. The third one helps run the household, arguably a lost skill. Right now, she’s finishing up painting the kitchen. Unsupervised even. The youngest is 8, almost 9. Still a ways to go there, but like I said above – I think we can handle it.

So in the end, anonymous stranger, I don’t care what you think. Whether you feel my kids don’t get enough contact with other children, or don’t know X by Y, or spend too much time in front of this screen or that, or if home renovation is a useful skill or not, or will they be able to get real jobs or go to a real college, it doesn’t matter. They’ve been educated according to their talents, their needs and their own interests.

Not mine, not yours.

Theirs.

Because in the end, homeschooling my children is all about them. And it will continue to work just fine, thanks.